Even with the Homeless Equine Population Expected to Swell this Winter, New Emphasis on Re-Homing Horses Before they’re Surrendered Results in 33 Percent Increase in Adoptions
BOSTON and Methuen, Mass. Nov. 30, 2018 – The MSPCA at Nevins Farm has since early September nearly doubled its large animal population now that 15 horses and other animals have been surrendered from all over Massachusetts. Two of those horses, 20-year-old Haflingers “Jack” and “Rose” were surrendered to Nevins Farm in conjunction with the MSPCA’s Law Enforcement department on Oct. 30 after their previous owners could no longer care for the pair of half siblings.
Even as Jack and Rose settle into life on the farm, where they will stay until permanent homes can be found for them, Nevins Farm is celebrating the success of an all-new program that has led to a whopping 33 percent year-over-year increase in horse adoptions, for a total of 36 adoptions so far in 2018.
Match-Making: Helping Horses before They’re Surrendered
The rash of surrenders, driven mainly by dropping temperatures, coincides with recent efforts that staffers hope will at some point permanently lower the number of homeless horses living on the farm, so that those who are in more urgent need of help get more time with the staff and volunteers who can rehabilitate them.
“We are pioneering a new approach that’s actually quite novel in animal welfare, which is to re-home some horses before they actually arrive at the farm—and we’re in a unique position to do this because of how we’re staffed and the level of support provided by our community,” said Ellie Monteith, manager of the equine and farm animal program at Nevins Farm.
“We receive dozens of calls every month from potential adopters looking for a specific kind of horse and if that description matches a horse in the community that we know needs a new home, we’ll make that match directly,” added Monteith.
The process spares many horses from being transported to Nevins Farm and then ultimately transported again to a permanent home. “It’s easier on the horses and it allows us to re-direct our limited resources to those already in our care—who in most cases need the most help.”
Monteith says that 24 horses have been re-homed in this way since Nevins Farm started piloting the new program in January 2018.
Jack and Rose are just two of the horses benefiting from the increased staff and volunteer bandwidth that has resulted from the increase in horse adoptions.
Underweight upon arrival, but in overall good health, neither were ready to be transferred to a new home straight away without first gaining some much needed weight. “We’ve been able to spend even more time getting to know their preferences, and we’re confident we know the kind of home they would do best in,” said Monteith.
Inventing the Future of Animal Welfare, One Horse at a Time
Mike Keiley, director of adoption centers and programs at the MSPCA-Angell, credits the strategic shift at Nevins Farm for successes above and beyond more animals getting adopted faster than ever before.
“It’s quite rare to have an ‘innovation’ story to tell in animal welfare because the work has only ever centered on housing animals in a shelter-like environment until adopters take them home,” he said. “By re-homing as many horses as possible, directly from one safe and stable home to another, we not only spare them unnecessary travel and stress but we also preserve critical resources for the animals who need temporary shelter at Nevins Farm to address medical or other needs before they can be adopted.”
This work is even more critical now that winter is upon us, a season in which horse surrenders tend to tick upward.
“[Horse surrenders] are pretty common at this time of year, especially once snow begins covering the pastures, requiring supplemental feed to keep horses and other farm animals healthy over the coldest parts of the year—some folks struggle to keep up with the rising cost of and need to find new homes for their animals,” said Monteith.
But never before has the Nevins Farm team felt as well prepared heading into the winter season. “We have quite a few horses with us—16 as of today—but the truth is we might have double that number if we weren’t able to transfer so many to new homes without having to land here first. And that’s great for horses,” she added.
Adopters for Jack and Rose Wanted!
Monteith and her team at Nevins Farm hope that potential adopters will reach out and bring Jack and Rose home for the Holidays. “They get on well together but they would also do well living apart,” said Monteith. “They’ve reached a much healthier weight in the five or so weeks they’ve been with us, and we expect both will ultimately be wonderful companions for advanced beginners who love riding horseback or—as Rose enjoys so much—being pulled in a cart.”
Potential adopters can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.